Do I need an Advance Directive or a POA?

I have a healthcare power of attorney over my father, and I am the executor of his will. He lives in another state and is currently in a rehab facility. He has no cell phone and no way of communicating from his bed. Can I use that healthcare power of attorney to contact his bank and be added to his account? He has several bills that must be paid and no way of doing so. I’m trying to figure out how I can help from so far away.

You are definitely in a tough situation—it can be really tricky to help someone who has lost capacity to manage their own affairs if proper planning never occurred. Your dad has some documents in place so that you can help him, but he may be missing one key document: the POA for Financial Matters. You said that your dad has a healthcare power of attorney and a will—does he also have a General Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Matters? Let’s go over some legal terms:

Power of Attorney for Healthcare–A legal form that allows an individual to name someone to make healthcare or medical decisions on their behalf when they become unable to make those decisions themselves. In Georgia, this form is part of the Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare.
General Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Matters—A legal form that allows an individual to name someone to make specific financial decisions on their behalf (even if they lose capacity).

In this situation, your dad would need to complete a General Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Matters and name you as his financial agent in order for you to be able to talk to his bank about his accounts. The healthcare power of attorney only allows you to talk to his doctors and be involved in his medical issues, not his financial issues. An experienced elder law attorney near him might be able to help you do this remotely. To find a Certified Elder Law Attorney near him, you can visit http://www.nelf.org/find-a-cela/. If you are in the Metro Atlanta area, please contact our office for a complimentary phone consultation at (404)843-0121 or info@hurleyeclaw.com.